Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chapter Two


The [Dutch West India] Company will endeavor to supply the colonists with as many blacks as it possibly can, on the conditions hereafter to be made, without however being bound to do so to a greater extent or for a longer time than it shall see fit.
Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions (June 7, 1629)
The Dutch arrived on the African coast in 1592. In 1612 they built Fort Nassau at Mouri on the Gold Coast. Five years later, they purchased the island of Goree from local natives, built two forts on it, and established a trading center (factory) at Rio Fresco on the nearby mainland. These two endeavors gave the Dutch early access to both the Gambia River and Gold Coast regions. When the Dutch West India Company was chartered in 1621, it received a monopoly on all African trade and the right to develop Dutch possessions in the New World.
The Dutch West India Company established settlements in Pernambuco, Brazil, in 1624; in New Netherland in 1624; and on the New World islands of Curacao, St. Eustatius, and Tobago in the 1630s. The great demand for slaves in their Brazilian and Caribbean possessions spurred the Dutch to expand their activities in the slave trade. The Dutch West India Company also found it lucrative to ship slaves from West Africa to Curacao and then smuggle them into the Spanish colonies. Emboldened by the prospect of increasing trade and profits, the Dutch broke the Portuguese stranglehold on the West African coast between 1637 and 1642. They took over the Portuguese forts at Elmina, Axim (Fort St. Anthony) and Shama (near the mouth of the Pra River) and temporarily occupied Angola in 1641. These conquests made the Dutch the dominant European power in the Gold Coast region.1
The Dutch diverted only a small stream of their African slaves to their colony at New Netherland before the 1650s. Most of the slaves brought between 1626 and 1652 were captured Spanish or Portuguese prizes or blacks carried under foreign flags rather than slaves supplied directly by the Dutch West India Company. The first blacks to arrive in New Amsterdam were Paul d' Angola, Simon Congo, Anthony Portuguese, John Francisco, and seven other males in 1626. Their names indicate that they may have been slaves on Portuguese or Spanish ships captured at sea. Three women were brought in from Angola in 1628. The Reverend Jonas Michaelius, first minister of the Dutch Reformed Church of New Netherland, gave his opinion of their value as maid‑servants: "the Angola slaves are thievish, lazy and useless trash." These fourteen blacks formed 5.2 percent of the 270‑person population of New Amsterdam in 1628. The next three blacks to enter New Amsterdam were purchased by the Director of the Dutch West India Company from a Providence Island ship captain in 1636. A French privateer, La Garce, arrived with slaves in 1642, and Tamandare put into port from Brazil in 1646 with a cargo of slaves. A Spanish slaver, St. Anthoni, captured in 1652 by a Dutch privateer, provided New Amsterdam with forty‑four confiscated slaves: twenty men, ten women, two adults of unknown sex, and twelve children. Some were sold to the Dutch West India Company while others were vended to private residents.2
In the 1650s the Dutch West India Company began to supply New Amsterdam directly with slaves. In 1652 it also gave the inhabitants of New Amsterdam permission to sail to the coast of Angola and bring back slaves. They were forbidden, however, to trade anywhere along the entire west coast of Africa from Cape Verd to Cape Lopes de Gonsalve since these areas were the preserves of the Dutch West India Company. The Dutch West India Company's slaver Witte Paert brought slaves directly from the Bight of Guinea in 1655; most of this shipment of slaves, however, was re‑sold to other colonies. In December 1659 Sphera Mundi transported slaves from Curacao to New Amsterdam for the use of Director Peter Stuyvesant and Commissary Van Brugge. The four males and one female (one died before arrival) had only landed in Curacao from Africa in August. The Eyckenboom brought slaves in 1660, as did New Netherland Indian on each of its two trips in 1661 (one cargo contained thirty‑six slaves from Curacao). The slaves from both ships were sold at public auction to private buyers by the Dutch West India Company.3
A large number of slaves arrived in New Amsterdam in the last months before the colony fell to the English. The slave cargo of Sparrow (Musch) which arrived in May 1664 consisted of forty blacks; the Dutch West India Company kept six males and five females for its own use and sold twenty‑nine slaves to private buyers (eighteen males, ten females, and one child). On August 14, 1664, Gideon delivered 290 slaves to New Amsterdam from Guinea and Angola via Curacao. Some of the blacks on Gideon had been brought directly from Africa, although most were seasoned slaves who had spent a period of time in Curacao. Seventy‑two of the blacks were sent to the Company's Delaware colony while 218 (115 men, 103 women) were sold to the inhabitants of New Amsterdam before the arrival of the British on September 8, 1664.4
The Africans who were brought to New Amsterdam between 1626 and 1664 came from various regions in Western and Western Central Africa. The African origins of New Amsterdam slaves are suggested by their last names listed at baptism or marriage in the records of the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam from 1639 to 1664: Angola, Cape Verde, Loango (northern Congo), Congo, and the Cape of Good Hope. The majority of slaves who reached New Netherland during these years were probably from Angola. The first Angolan blacks to reach New Amsterdam were captured cargo taken from Portuguese and Spanish slavers. Although Portugal monopolized the Congo and Angola slave trade throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,5 beginning in the 1650s the Dutch West India Company sent its own ships to Angola and permitted New Amsterdam vessels to sail directly to Angola to obtain slaves.
Although Dutch slave trading forts were concentrated in the Gambia River and Gold Coast regions, by the 1650s and 1660s Dutch West India Company ships procured slaves along the entire African coastline from Cape Verd to Cape Lopes de Gonsalve in addition to Angola. In 1659 Eyckenboom was chartered to sail from Holland to Cape Verd, then proceed all along the coast to the Dutch factory at Elmina on the Gold Coast, on to the Bight of Guinea, and deliver its slave cargo to the islands of Curacao, Bonaire, and Aruba; it was then to stop at New Netherland before returning home to Amsterdam. In 1659 the slaver St. Jan purchased 219 slaves destined for Curacao at Bonny, a village near the mouth of the New Calabar River in the Bight of Biafra. In 1663 Gideon was chartered in Amsterdam to make a stop at Elmina and then to take on a full complement of 275 slaves at Loango (Congo) and stations in Angola which was to be disposed of at Cayenne (French Guiana), Curacao, and New Netherland.6
Blacks who were sold to or stolen by European slave traders at these coastal depots came from a wide variety of ethnic groups and spoke many different African tongues. Slaves brought to New Amsterdam from the Senegambia region (including Cape Verd and the Dutch fort at Goree) belonged to Pular‑speaking or Malinke‑speaking (Mandingo) groups, Bambara (from the interior), or were Wolofs, Fulbe, or Fulani. Slaves gathered along the Gold Coast were Akan‑speaking peoples and Ashanti from the inland rain forests. Dutch factors in this area obtained slaves through trade with the African Kings of Wydah, Benin, Futton, Fantyn, Aguina, Cabessaland, Lay, Fetu, Ardra, Akim, and Aquaffo. Wydah traders went as far as 200 miles inland to capture or trade for slaves to sell to the Dutch. Blacks from the New Calabar region were Ibo or Ijo. The many blacks taken from Western Central Africa (the Congo and Angola) belonged to Bantu‑speaking nations.7
Some blacks were shipped directly from Africa to New Amsterdam, either by private traders or the Dutch West India Company. Some Africans who were packed into the holds of Portuguese or Spanish slave ships destined for Iberian colonies in the New World arrived in New Netherland when such ships were seized en route by Dutch or French privateers and were diverted to New Amsterdam. Many other Africans, however, were "seasoned" to the labor routines of slavery on such island depots as Curacao, St. Thomas, and St. Domingo8 before being shipped to New Amsterdam by the Dutch West India Company. Seasoned Spanish slaves who were being transported from one Spanish Caribbean island to another often fell prey to piracy and were also sold in New Netherland.9
Seasoned slaves were preferred in New Amsterdam over blacks freshly imported from Africa. Most of the seasoned slaves who were brought into New Netherland by the Dutch West India Company came from Curacao. The pride of new slaves from Africa reduced their market value in comparison to "Negroes who had been 12 or 13 years in the West Indies and who for a year or two had always lived here with Dutch people" and were therefore deemed "a better sort of Negroes."10 In a 1660 letter to Vice‑Director Beck at Curacao, Peter Stuyvesant stated in his request for slaves for New Amsterdam that "an important service would be conferred on the company, on us and the country if there were among the sold negroes, some of experience who have resided a certain time at Curacao."11
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The Africans of many nations brought together in New Amsterdam provided much‑needed labor both for the Dutch West India Company and private slaveholders. Since New Netherland was unable to attract a sufficient number of permanent agricultural settlers, slaves fulfilled the colony's pressing need for workers.12 The Company amassed a large labor force for its own use. In the 1630s the Company's slaves helped to build Fort Amsterdam; they were used in "cutting building timber and firewood for the Large House as well as the guardhouse, splitting palisades, clearing land, burning lime and helping to bring in the grain in harvest time, together with many other labors. . . . "13
In the 1650s and 1660s Company slaves continued to be used for agricultural, public, and military works. In 1651 they faced the outside of the fort with flat sods, and in 1658 they worked on the construction of a wagon road from New Amsterdam to the outlying village of Harlem. In 1660 Director Peter Stuyvesant requested that additional slaves be sent to New Amsterdam from Curacao for Company use: "They ought to be stout and strong fellows, fit for immediate employment on this fortress and other works; also, if required, in war against the wild barbarians, either to pursue them when retreating, or else to carry some of the soldiers' baggage. . . . " In 1664 Stuyvesant wrote that a recent shipment of slaves would be used "to procure provisions and all sorts of timber work, fix ox carts and a new rosmill."14
The desperate need for labor in the new colony rendered the Dutch system of slavery pragmatic--the Dutch regarded slavery as an economic expedient to furnish the settlement with workers. They either did not intend to, or were not in power long enough to make slavery into a form of social organization or race control; they developed no rigid slave system or formal slave code. (The English colonies also did not pass legislation controlling blacks before the 1660s.) Freed negroes were not legally discriminated against--no racial legislation existed to restrict their freedom to own property, intermarry with whites, or own white indentured servants.15 The Dutch attitude toward miscegenation, however, was expressed in a 1638 ordinance: "Each and everyone must refrain from fighting, adulterous intercourse with heathens, blacks, or other persons, mutiny, theft, false swearing, and other immoralities. . . . "16 While not as legally prohibitive as slavery would later become under the English, by 1664 the use of slave labor in New Netherland had achieved local importance and acceptance and was deeply entrenched.17
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The elasticity of the slave system in New Netherland allowed family life to be recreated among the Africans who almost always arrived in the colony without either kinsmen or mates. While many of the slaves were able to marry and establish families, a high sex ratio (excess of males over females) among imported blacks prevented some men from finding wives. Males were preferred as laborers and were therefore overrepresented on each of the ships which deposited slave cargoes in New Amsterdam. The sex of adult blacks imported into New Amsterdam between 1626 and 1664 is known for 306 slaves: 174 were male and 132 were female. This preponderance of males yields a sex ratio of 131 (131 males per 100 females in the population). Black adult sex ratios in the colony probably improved in the early 1660s as the generation of black children born in New Amsterdam in the 1630s reached maturity.
At least some black marriages took place in the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam. As the established church of the colony from 1628 to 1664, the Dutch Reformed Church was dominant throughout the Dutch period and was the only religious body in New Netherland until Presbyterians formed a congregation in 1642. Dutch religious leaders in the Netherlands offered little criticism of the institution of slavery and called only for kind treatment and Christianization of the slaves. Ministers in New Amsterdam did not criticize slavery either--they were responsible to the Dutch West India Company and to officials such as Peter Stuyvesant18 who paid their salaries and profited greatly from slavery and the slave trade.19
Marriage records for the Dutch Reformed Church at New Amsterdam survive for the years 1639 to 1866.20 The first recorded black marriages occurred on May 5, 1641, when two couples were married: Anthony Van Angola with Catalina Van Angola, and Lucie D'Angola with Laurens Van Angola. Altogether twenty‑six black marriages took place between 1641 and 1664 in the Dutch Reformed Church at New Amsterdam.21 Twenty‑five of the twenty‑six couples were of unknown legal status, which reflected either their free status or the secondary importance attached to their condition of slavery by Dutch church officials. The one couple identified as slaves were owned together and were married on October 4, 1659: Franciscus Neger and Catharina Negrinne, "Slaven Van Corn. de Potter."
All of the fifty‑two spouses had last names. Thirty‑one of their names reflected countries of origin prior to arrival at New Amsterdam. Twenty‑eight names were variations of Angola (De Angola, Van Angola, D'Angool, or plain Angola) while three names indicated either other African locations or African ports of embarkation (Van Loange [Loango, northern Congo], de Chongo [Congo], and Van CapoVerde [Cape Verd or the Cape Verde islands]). Seven names reflected the racial and color characteristic of the person--Neger, Negrinne, Crioell, or Criolyo. Both types of names were probably assigned to incoming blacks by the Dutch to describe the geographical and racial characteristics of their new labor force.22 The remaining fourteen last names were individualized and were often of Dutch form and construction (Pieterszen, Emanuels, Jans, and Mattheuszen),23 reflecting either (or both) the newly acquired Dutch language patterns of the Africans and the attempts of the clergy to translate African or unfamiliar names into Dutch usages.
Five of the spouses also had a reference to their place of origin recorded with their marriage: Sebastiaen de Britto, Van St. Domingo, or Christoffel Crioell, Van St. Thomas. During Christoffel's lifetime his last name changed in a succession of records: Christoffel Crioell, Van St. Thomas (1656) later became Christoffel Santomme (1671).24 This fluidity probably reflected a gradual evolution of family names due partially to phonetic spelling in records and to white carelessness or confusion as to the true last names of their slaves and freed blacks. To be sure, however, the first generation of slaves in New Amsterdam had family surnames, a fact recognized by the white community.
The exact date of the birth of the first black child in New Amsterdam is unknown. It is also unknown what proportion of immigrant black women ever bore children, how many they delivered here during their lifetimes (they ranged in age from puberty to age forty [and sometimes older] upon arrival), and how many of their offspring survived to adulthood. It is therefore uncertain when New Netherland's black population first maintained its numbers through natural reproduction.25
Black children were born as early as the 1630s in New Amsterdam; they began to be baptized in 1639 in the Dutch Reformed Church at New Amsterdam. In this early period, only children of confessing members were allowed to be baptized, indicating that several adult negroes were full members of the Church. The Dutch Reformed Church, however, had little overall success in attracting blacks. In order to become full communicants, blacks had to demonstrate a good understanding of the basic beliefs of the Dutch Reformed Church. A difficult process of catechetical study was required which, coupled with sophisticated, unemotional sermons, discouraged black enthusiasm and participation.26
Ministers were also reluctant to baptize negroes because whites feared that Christianity necessitated emancipation. The reaction of white colonists to the retention in slavery of children of half‑freed Christian negroes (explained below) in 1649 indicated the potential power of this equation between Christianity and freedom. Domine Henricus Selyns, on June 9, 1664, wrote to the Classis of Amsterdam that "the negroes request baptism for their children‑‑we have refused due to their lack of knowledge and faith, and because of their worldly aims. The parents wanted nothing else than to deliver their children from bodily slavery, without striving for Christian virtues."27
In spite of these obstacles the Church was interested in catechizing negroes, and the records indicate that baptisms of confessing black members and their children took place as early as 1639.28 Fifty‑one blacks were baptized from 1639 to 1655 in the Dutch Reformed Church at New Amsterdam:29 one male adult, one female adult, twenty‑nine male children, and twenty female children. All of the forty‑nine children who appeared in the baptismal register were listed as the children of their parent or parents rather than as the servants of owners. None of the baptized children or their listed parents had a specific recorded legal status, indicating that they were either already free or that their position as slaves was not the overwhelming, fixed badge that it would later become. Whether really slave or free, the primary identification of the child in the church records was to its parents rather than to owners.
The Dutch accorded black fathers the primary parental role at baptism. The father alone was generally listed (46 fathers only, 3 mothers only);30 it was rare for mothers to be listed at all. The black fathers may have been accorded a predominant religious place either because they were free or half‑free or because the Dutch acknowledged slave men to be the heads of their families. All but one of the parents bore last names, a further indication of white recognition of the black family.
Baptismal witnesses were usually black, revealing family, social, and community ties among black New Netherlanders. All but two of the fifty‑one baptisms had witnesses: in twenty‑eight cases the witnesses were other blacks of unknown relationship to the family. Another seventeen baptisms had black witnesses, but whites were also present. In four baptisms only whites (possible owners, friends, or neighbors) attended the ceremony as witnesses.31 Baptism, as a familial event, was shared with other members, possibly relatives, of the black community in forty‑five out of fifty‑one cases (88.2 percent).
Many of the slaves in early New Amsterdam married and raised families. The favorable response of the Dutch West India Company on February 25, 1644, to a plea for emancipation made by several male slaves revealed that the blacks had formed nuclear families and were supporting their wives and children:32
We, William Kieft and Council of New Netherland having considered the petition of the Negroes named Paulo Angola, Big Manuel, Little Manuel, Manuel de Gerrit de Reus, Simon Congo, Anthony Portugis, Gracia, Peter Santomee, Jan Francisco, Little Anthony, Jan Fort Orange, who have served the Company 18 or 19 years, to be liberated from their servitude . . . also that they are burthened with many children so that it is impossible for them to support their wives and children, as they have been accustomed to do, if they must continue in the Company's service . . . do release, for the term of their natural lives, the above named and their Wives from Slavery.
The eleven petitioners had arrived in 1625 or 1626‑‑eighteen or nineteen years before their petition--and must have been the first eleven blacks imported into New Amsterdam. They had presumably married women imported between 1628 and 1644, including, perhaps the three Angola women or slaves from the La Garce shipment.
The Dutch West India Company released these slaves on a "half‑freedom" plan which gave the Company the produce and periodic labor that it required without the responsibility of superintending and maintaining the slaves. It may have devised the "half‑freedom" arrangement as a form of semi‑retirement for slaves who had already served almost twenty years by 1644.33 The Company was mainly interested in the labor provided by black people, not in locking them into legal, perpetual slavery. By freeing older slaves, they received a tribute of food supplies and escaped the burden of supporting aging slaves. The blacks who were freed would be able "to earn their livelihood by Agriculture, on the land shewn and granted to them, on condition that they . . . shall be bound to pay for the freedom they receive . . . annually . . . to the [Dutch] West India Company . . . thirty skepels of Maize or Wheat, Pease or Beans, and one Fat hog, valued at twenty guilders."34 If the tribute were not paid, their freedom was forfeited. They were also obligated to work for the Company for wages whenever their services were required. One further condition was set: "that their children at present born or yet to be born, shall be bound and obligated to serve the Honorable West India Company as Slaves."35
A major controversy developed around this last stipulation. In a "Remonstrance of the People of New Netherland" to the Lords States General of the United Netherlands on July 28, 1649, the white residents complained that the children of freed Christian slaves were still enslaved contrary to law that anyone born of a free Christian mother should be free.36 The Dutch West India Company's answer came six months later. Although it reiterated that it had freed the adult blacks on the condition that their children should serve the company whenever it pleased, it moderated its claim on the service of these children from slavery to occasional labor. The Company explained that of all the children, no more than three were in service‑‑one with Stuyvesant on the Company's bouwerie, one at the house of Hope in Hartford, Connecticut, and one with Martin Krigier, who had reared her from a little child at his own expense.37 Christianity in New Netherland was therefore a potential route out of slavery for blacks.
The original slaves in New Amsterdam were often able to create kinship and friendship networks in addition to families. The first generation of New York slaves displayed African cultural norms of familial obligation: real or fictive kin cared for dependent members of the group.38 The black community, or perhaps black relatives, fulfilled familial obligations by taking in orphaned children and assuring the welfare of‑‑and trying to gain freedom for‑‑enslaved black children.
Three cases illustrate the black community's concern for black children. The court session of March 15, 1655, heard the case of Anthony Matysen, a negro, v. Egberts Van Borsum. Van Borsum had given Matysen and his wife one of his negro's children to nurse and rear,39 and Matysen claimed not to have been paid for this as promised. Matysen requested that the child be declared free and that he and his wife would rear it at their own expense. As the defendant wanted his slave back, the court ordered that the child be returned to him, and required Van Borsum to pay Matysen the sum contracted for the child's temporary care.40 On March 21, 1661, Emanuel Pieterszen and his wife Dorothy Angola petitioned for a certificate of freedom for a lad named Anthony Angola, whom they had adopted when an infant and had since educated and reared. The petition was granted.41 A similar petition was filed on December 6, 1663, by Domingo Angola, a free negro, praying for the manumission of eighteen‑year‑old Christina, a baptized orphan daughter of deceased black parents Anthonya and Manuel Trumpeter. The court freed her upon furnishing the Company with another negro in her place or upon paying 300 guilders.42
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Many slaves were freed between 1644 and 1664, both by the Dutch West India Company and by individual owners. Paul d'Angola and Clara Crioole were privately freed by their master Capt. Jan De Vries.43 On September 27, 1646, Jan Francisco the Younger was freed for long and faithful service on condition that "he pay to the Company during his life 10 skepels of wheat or its value yearly, in return for his freedom."44 In an act of private manumission on February 17, 1648, Philip Jansen Ringo freed Manuel the [black] Spaniard for the sum of 300 guilders. On December 28, 1662, three negro women petitioned the Dutch West India Company for their freedom and were granted it on the condition that one of the three do the director general's housework each week. On April 19, 1663, Mayken, an old and sickly black woman, was granted her freedom outright by the Dutch West India Company, "she having served as a slave since the year 1628." She must have been one of the three original women from Angola to reach New Amsterdam. Domingo Angola and his wife Maykie were freed outright by the Dutch West India Company on April 17, 1664. Moreover, some of the slaves released earlier on the half‑freedom plan were later totally manumitted. On September 4, 1664, eight half‑slaves (Ascento Angola, Christopher Santome, Peter Petersen Criolie, Anthony Criolie, Lewis Guinea, Jan Guinea, Solomon Petersen Criolie, and Basje Pietersen) prayed to the Dutch West India Company to be made entirely free, a request that was granted three months later.45
Dutch slaves who were either fully manumitted or released on the half‑freedom plan by the Dutch West India Company were often given land or were able to rent or buy it so that they could adequately support their wives and children and pay the annual crop tribute to the Company. Between July 13, 1643, and April 8, 1647, for example, land patents were granted to freed negroes Domingo Antony, Catelina (widow of Jochim Antony), Anthony Portuguese, Big Manuel, Anna (widow of Andries d'Angola), Francisco, Antony Congo, Bastien, Jan, and Peter Van Campen. Typical of these grants was the one given to Anthony Portuguese on September 5, 1645, of six morgens and 425 rods of land on Manhattan island.46 All of the lands were contiguous on the public road near a pond known as the Fresh Water on the outskirts of town. The area became known as the "Negroes Land."47 Private citizens also gave lands to free blacks. In 1674 Judith Stuyvesant, widow of Peter Stuyvesant, gave a considerable amount of land to free black Francisco Bastiaenz on the condition that he keep its fences in repair.48 Land ownership by blacks prevented much of the pauperism and dependency which haunted slaves who were later freed in British New York.
Some of the early freed negroes moved to Long Island and other neighboring areas where they joined whites in the founding of new towns. The Dutch spread out over Long Island to settle five towns in Kings County between 1636 and 1661: Breuckelen (Brooklyn), Amersfoort (Flatlands), Midwout (Flatbush), Boswyck (Bushwick), and New Utrecht.49 In 1641 they founded Oude Dorp, the first white settlement on Staten Island.50 Francisco the Negro, one of the eleven slaves manumitted in 1644, became one of the twenty‑three original patentees of Boswyck in 1660. He appeared again on a 1663 "Muster Roll of Officers and Soldiers" in Boswyck along with Anton, another negro.51 In 1681 the original ten patentees of Tappan in Rockland County included five men from the Bowery in Manhattan. Three were white and two were black‑‑Claes Emanuels and John DeVries II. Before removing to Tappan, Emanuels and DeVries had been yeoman farmers in the outward of Manhattan and were close neighbors to several white members of the original patent group.52
Anthony Jansen Van Salee was a mulatto who had been born in the Moroccan seaport of Salee to a Dutch father and a Moorish mother. After his arrival in New Amsterdam (prior to 1638) he obtained a farm and married a white woman of colorful reputation named Grietse Reyniers. After a long series of court cases and disputes with his neighbors, Jansen and his wife were banished from New Netherland on April 7, 1639, for their quarrelsome and scandalous conduct. Prior to his departure in August Jansen successfully petitioned Director Kieft for 200 acres of land at uninhabited Gravesend, for which Jansen would pay the Dutch West India Company one hundred guilders a year over a ten‑year period. Jansen thereby became the first and one of the most prominent landowners in Gravesend, which was subsequently settled by the English in the 1640s.53
The career of Solomon Peters also illustrates the process of freedom and life afterward for some Dutch slaves. Solomon Petersen Criolie was one of the eight half‑slaves who petitioned successfully for their freedom in 1664.54 Salomon Pieterszen and his wife Maria Anthony later appeared in the baptismal registers of the Dutch Reformed Church at New Amsterdam at the baptisms of their children Jacob (July 15, 1668), Mary (January 28, 1671), Celitie (January 16, 1674), and Abraham (October 14, 1676). After achieving full freedom in 1664, Solomon Peters lived with his wife in a settled marriage for the next thirty years, fathered and raised eight children in all, and acquired a home, lands, and property. In his will written on November 30, 1694, at the Bowery, New York City,55 he left his wife, Maria Antonis Portugues, all his lands, house, and household goods either during her widowhood or for life. He left to his four sons all the iron tools, implements of husbandry, guns, swords, and pistols. His eldest son was to receive four pounds while the other three sons were to receive eighteen shillings each.
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Slavery was a loose institution under the Dutch. It left enough room for slave family life to persist: some slave husbands could contribute to the support of their families, parents and the black community were able to participate in the baptisms of black children, kin and friends were sometimes able to care for other blacks, and black adults were regularly accorded the dignity of bearing a surname. Many Dutch slaves were also able to achieve freedom, and with freedom often came the opportunity to own land and establish a considerable measure of economic independence. Much would change with the advent of British colonial rule in 1664.
1Elizabeth Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, 4 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication no. 409, 1932; reprint ed., New York: Octagon Books, 1969), 1:74‑76; James Pope‑Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers: A Study of the Atlantic Slave Traders 1441‑1807 (New York: Capricorn Books, 1969), pp. 68‑69, 74‑75. Also see Henry A. Gemery and Jan S. Hogendorn, eds., The Uncommon Market: Essays in the Economic History of the Atlantic Slave Trade (New York: Academic Press, 1979), chap. 14, on the Dutch slave trade.
2Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3:405, 410‑11, 416‑17; Joyce D. Goodfriend, "Burghers and Blacks: The Evolution of a Slave Society at New Amsterdam," New York History, 59, no.2 (April 1978):128‑29, 132; James Johnson, Black Manhattan (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1930; reprint ed., New York: Arno Press, 1968), p. 5; Edmund O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New York, 15 vols. (Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co., 1853‑1887), 2:768; Henry C. Murphy, "The First Minister of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in North America: Letter of Domine Jonas Michaelius to Domine Adrianus Smoutius, Dated at Manhattan, 11 August, 1628," Collections of the New‑York Historical Society, vol. 13 (1880):383; Ira Rosenwaike, Population History of New York City (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1972), p. 2.
3Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3:411‑13, 415, 417‑19, 420‑21; Goodfriend, "Burghers and Blacks," pp. 138, 141; McManus, Negro Slavery, p. 5.
4Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3:422, 427‑29, 430, 431, 433‑34; E. B. O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, 1630‑1664: Dutch Manuscripts (Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co. for New York State, 1865), pp. 268, 333; Goodfriend, "Burghers and Blacks," p. 139.
5Pope‑Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, p. 183.
6Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 1:141‑45, 152; 3:417‑19, 422, 426.
7Philip D. Curtin, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969), pp. 184‑90, 246; Pope‑Hennessy, Sins of the Fathers, pp. 58‑59, 75‑83, 88, 169, 171, 187, 206; Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 1:90.
8The last names and other information on blacks baptized and married in the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam often reflected either their countries of origin or places of prior residence. See the February 5, 1645 baptism of Mathias, whose father was Pieter St. Thome and the October 28, 1646 marriage of Sebastiaen de Britto, Van St. Domingo.
9The commonness of Spanish first names and the surname "Portugies" among blacks baptized and married in the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam between 1639 and 1664 indicates that these blacks had come to New Amsterdam from Portuguese or Spanish ships or colonies.
10A. J. F. Van Laer, ed. and trans., Correspondence of Jeremias Van Rensselaer 1651‑1674 (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1932), p. 167. Note Van Rensselaer's comment on the pride of his African slave Andries.
11Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3: 421.
12McManus, Negro Slavery, pp. 2‑4.
13Goodfriend, "Burghers and Blacks," pp. 129‑30.
14Goodfriend, "Burghers and Blacks," pp. 130‑31; Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of Slave Trade, 3: 421, 429.
15McManus, Negro Slavery, pp. 11‑12.
16Ordinance, April 15, 1638, New York Colonial Manuscripts, IV, 2, in Edmund B. O'Callaghan, ed., Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, 1638‑1674 (Albany: Weed, Parsons & Company, 1868), p. 12.
17Goodfriend, "Burghers and Blacks," pp. 125‑44.
18Peter Stuyvesant exploited his Curacao connections to obtain forty slaves for his own use--the largest slave force in New Netherland. McManus, Negro Slavery, p. 10. In 1660, Peter Stuyvesant erected a Chapel of Trinity Church on his bowery for his family and slaves. Domine Henricus Selyns, who served congregations on Long Island and at Stuyvesant's Bowery from 1660 to 1664, wrote to the Classis of Amsterdam in 1660 that "there is preaching in the morning at Breuckelen, but towards the conclusion of the catechismal exercises of New Amsterdam, at the Bowery . . . where people also come from the city to Evening Service. In addition to the household [families] there are over 40 negroes [from the region of the Negro coast] whose location is the Negro quarter." Edmund B O'Callaghan, ed., The Documentary History of New York State, 4 vols. (Albany: Weed, Parsons & Co., 1849‑1851), 3:72; Gerald Francis De Jong, "The Dutch Reformed Church and Negro Slavery in Colonial America," Church History, 40, no. 4 (December 1971):429. Services stopped after Stuyvesant's death in 1672. "Records of St. Marks Church in the Bowery," NYGBR 71 (October 1940):334. Five black couples who were married at the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam between 1672 and 1691 lived together on Stuyvesant's Bowery; they were probably Peter Stuyvesant's former slaves or their descendants. Four of the five were of unknown status--only one was specified as free.
19De Jong, "The Dutch Reformed Church, " pp. 425‑26.
20Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Marriages from 1639 to 1801 in the Reformed Dutch Church of New York (New York: By the Society, 1890; reprint ed., New York: By the Society, 1940).
21A marriage which took place on November 11, 1663, was also listed again on December 23, 1663, at the Dutch Reformed Church of Brooklyn. Jan the negro was married to Annetie Abrahams, with a certificate from the Manhattans. "First Book of Records of the Dutch Reformed Church of Brooklyn, New York," Year Book of the Holland Society of New York (1897): 133‑94.
22This African or racial surname pattern had declined by the 1666 to 1697 period. Nineteen black marriages took place in the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam during these years. Only seventeen of the thirty‑eight spouses had African/racial last names (44.7 percent) compared to 73.1 percent of spouses married between 1641 and 1664. Blacks within the Dutch community increasingly began to bear individualized family names.
23The two most common Dutch last name modes were "Van" followed by a place name--Van Cortlant or Van Angola--and "son of one's father's first name" as in Franciscus Bastiaenszen, meaning Franciscus, son of Bastiaen. Rosalie Fellows Bailey, "Dutch Systems in Family Naming," National Genealogical Society Special Publication No. 12 (May 1954): 1‑21.
24On September 9, 1656, Christoffel Crioell, Van St. Thomas and Maria Angola were married. According to Berthold Fernow, ed., The Records of New Amsterdam, 1653‑1674, 7 vols. (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, pub. under authority of New York City, 1897; reprint ed., Baltimore: Genealogical Publication Co., 1976), 6:335, on April 16, 1671, Manuel Sanders, widower of Mary Sanders, married Maria Angola, widow of Christoffel Santomme--a remarriage for both partners.
25Birthrates in New Amsterdam were likely to improve when the first generation of American‑born black children reached sexual maturity. Although extra male slaves would continue to be imported into the colony, the sex balance was probably equal among the new generation itself. American‑born women could be expected to bear more children than African‑born women because they were spared the high morbidity and mortality common among immigrant women and because they spent their entire reproductive lives in the colony.
26De Jong, "The Dutch Reformed Church," pp. 429, 432‑33.
27Edward Corwin, ed., Ecclesiastical Records of the State of New York, 7 vols. (Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1901‑1916), 1:548.
28Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Reformed Dutch Church, N.Y., Baptisms 1639‑1800, 2 vols. (New York: Printed for the Society, 1901; reprint ed., Upper Saddle River, N.J.: The Gregg Press, 1968). The baptismal records of the Reformed Dutch Church at New Amsterdam begin in 1639--negroes were baptized from this first opening date.
29Black baptisms continued to take place in this church between 1665 and 1679 (eighteen children). Two black children were baptized, in 1681 and 1684, at the Dutch Reformed Church of Flatbush. Records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Flatbush 1677‑1872, 5 vols., Frost Collection, NYGBS. These seventy‑one baptisms represent all black baptisms located prior to 1706.
30Between 1665 and 1684 Dutch Reformed church records of black child baptisms regularly listed both parents (18 both parents listed, 1 single parent--sex unknown, 1 no parents listed). The one child for whom no parents were listed was described as the servant of her owner: "April 20, 1684. Margrita--aged about eleven years--purchased slave at ten years without parents. Witness--Grietje Jans, wife of Teunis Pelt, purchaser." Records of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Flatbush, Baptisms 1677‑1872, vol. 1, p. 43, NYGBS.
31The criteria for labelling a witness as black, apart from a specific listing as negro, was an analysis of last names--names like Swartinne, Van Angola, Negro, and Portugies were peculiar to blacks. The names of blacks who appeared in the early marriage records of the Dutch Reformed Church of New Amsterdam were also cross‑checked to identify the race of witnesses at black baptisms. Anthony Backers witnessed the baptism of Daniel in 1669; he is known to be black because he is listed as "Anthony Backers, Neger" at his marriage in 1672. Witnesses were classified as white on the basis of naming or use of the title Mr.; they could be overcounted. Although several of the baptismal witnesses had the same last name as the child's parents, they could not be positively identified as relatives due to the commonness of surnames such as Van Angola and Neger in the black community. Some of the female black witnesses could have been mothers in the many baptisms where only fathers are officially listed as the parent.
32O'Callaghan, ed., Laws and Ordinances, N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts IV, 183, pp. 36‑37.
33Thomas Davis, "Slavery in Colonial New York City" (Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1974), p. 54.
34O'Callaghan, ed., Laws and Ordinances, N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts IV, 183, pp. 36‑37.
36O'Callaghan, ed., Documents Relative, New York State, 1:302.
38Gutman, Black Family, p. 352, commented that the early date of the 1644 petition for freedom for several slave men and their wives "is presumptive evidence that its expressions of family obligation had their roots in Old World African cultures." This first generation of slaves had had no time either to incorporate Dutch behavior patterns fully or to form new adaptations to enslavement--their behavior reflected the values they brought with them.
39The child's mother could have been dead, or Van Borsum may not have needed the young child's labor at that particular time.
40Fernow, ed., Records of New Amsterdam, 1:298.
41O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, p. 222. Emanuel Pieterszen and Dorothy Angola were free at the time of their 1661 petition but could have been slaves when they first adopted Anthony. They were married on February 2, 1653, at the Dutch Reformed Church, legal status unknown. Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Marriages in the Reformed Dutch Church of New York.
42O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, p. 256. Christina had been baptized on February 18, 1645, in the Dutch Reformed Church at New Amsterdam, and was then listed as the child of her father Emanuel Trompetter. Collections of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, Reformed Dutch Church, N.Y., Baptisms 1639‑1800.
43Roi Ottley and William Weatherby, eds., The Negro in New York: An Informal Social History (Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Oceana Publications for the New York Public Library, 1967), p. 11; O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, pp. 368‑74.
44O'Callaghan, ed., Laws and Ordinances, p. 60; O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, p. 105.
45O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, pp. 45, 242, 246, 264, 269.
46Ibid., pp. 368‑74.
47David Cohen, The Ramapo Mountain People (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1974), p. 26.
48Ottley and Weatherby, eds., The Negro in New York, p. 17.
49Bertus Harry Wabeke, Dutch Emigration to North America 1624‑1860, Booklets of the Netherlands Information Bureau, No. 10 (New York: Netherlands Information Bureau, 1944), pp. 49‑52; Rosenwaike, Population History of N.Y.C., pp. 6, 12.
50Ira K. Morris, Memorial History of Staten Island, 2 vols. (New York: The Winthrop Press, 1900), 1:32.
51Bushwick Town Records--History, Deeds, Births of Slaves 1660‑1825, pp. 7,69, St. Francis.
52Cohen, Ramapo Mountain People, pp. 25‑42.
53Harold Connolly, A Ghetto Grows in Brooklyn (New York: New York University Press, 1977), pp. 3‑4; Leo Hershkowitz, "The Troublesome Turk: An Illustration of Judicial Process in New Amsterdam," New York History, 46, no. 4 (1965): 299‑310; Hazel Van Dyke Roberts, "Anthony Jansen Van Salee 1607‑1676," NYGBR 103 (1972): 16‑28; Henri and Barbara Van Der Zee, A Sweet and Alien Land (New York: The Viking Press, 1978), p. 76.
54O'Callaghan, ed., Calendar of Historical Manuscripts: Dutch, p. 269.
55Collections of the New‑York Historical Society, Abstracts of Wills on File in the Surrogate's Office New York City, 1665‑1800, Publication Fund Series, 15 vols. (New York: Printed for the Society, 1892‑1906), 2:293 (hereafter cited as Coll.NYHS, Abstracts of Wills).